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EPA chief is tongue

America's top environmental official was in the hot seat on Sunday over his dubious views on climate change.

But Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt wasn't a guest on CNN or MSNBC, stations that President Donald Trump might accuse of being "fake news."

Instead, Pruitt was treading on what should've been more favorable turf: Fox News.

SEE ALSO:Trump's order will unravel America's best defense against climate change

The EPA administrator was on Fox News Sunday to discuss the Trump administration's executive order to unravel the Obama administration's climate policies, including the EPA's Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from electricity.

Mashable ImagePresident Donald Trump, left, with Scott Pruitt, before signing an executive order to unravel Obama-era climate policies.Credit: ron sach/Getty Images

Fox anchor Chris Wallace pressed Pruitt on his recent statement that he doesn't agree that carbon dioxide is "a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

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Wallace later asked, "The question I have is, what if you're wrong? What if in fact the Earth is warming, what if it is causing dramatic climate change, and that we as humans, through carbon emissions, are contributing to it?"

Pruitt, stumbling a bit in response, said, "Look, CO2 contributes to to greenhouse gas -- it has a greenhouse gas effect, and global warming, as methane does, as other types of gases. The issue is how much we contribute to it from a human activity perspective, and then what can be done about it from a process perspective, Chris."

Pruitt's response wasn't quite a tacit acceptance of the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change. Instead, he voiced a more subtle, lukewarm form of climate skepticism that's taking root under the Trump administration: Officials and policymakers agree that there's a problem, but they oppose taking action to help solve it.

Earlier in the exchange, Wallace asked Pruitt if people are supposed to believe "it's all a coincidence" that global temperatures are rising as concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building in the atmosphere.

Wallace pointed out that the scientific community is nearly unanimously opposed to Pruitt's view.

Via Giphy

For instance, scientists are at least 95 percent certain that human activity has caused at least half the observed temperature increases since the mid-20th century, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The years 2015 and 2016 were the two warmest years on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found.

Pruitt answered that he does believe the climate is changing and that human activity contributes to that change "in some measure," but the question remains, "What can we do about it?" he said. Apparently, we can bury our heads in the sand.


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